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Scientists have long recognized the role of nitric oxide in building muscle and speeding healing. It isn’t possible to consume this gas directly, but you can increase your body’s own production of it by taking l-arginine, a naturally-occurring amino acid that provides a number of fitness benefits.
L-arginine is a non-essential amino acid that is converted in the body to nitric oxide, a chemical that improves blood flow. It is found naturally in several foods, including red meat, poultry, dairy products, and fish. Synthetic l-arginine is produced in pharmaceutical laboratories, where it is used to treat high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, senile dementia, congestive heart failure, and other similar conditions.
When converted to nitric oxide, l-arginine causes blood vessels to open wider, allowing blood to flow through them more rapidly. It also stimulates the release of several hormones, including growth hormone and insulin. One study showed that individuals who took 3 grams of l-arginine along with 2.2 grams of l-orinthine and 12 mg of Vitamin B12 had a higher concentration of growth hormone than those who took a placebo.
Other research shows that l-arginine is effective at reducing visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat surrounding your organs, and is far more difficult to eliminate that subcutaneous fat, which is the fat beneath the skin. Participants in a study who took 6.6 grams of l-arginine daily lost 2 kg of visceral fat over a two-week period, as compared to only 0.7 kg for patients taking a placebo drug. There is also some evidence that suggests l-arginine diverts energy toward building muscle cells rather than fat cells, helping people bulk up while at the same time trimming fat.
To achieve the best possible results, you must take l-arginine at the right time. L-arginine increases insulin production, which can cause blood sugar to drop and increase hunger. As such, around three to four grams along with a high-carbohydrate meal is recommended, for a total of nine to 12 grams per day. L-arginine may be added to sports drinks, protein shakes, or smoothies to help disguise the flavor; this supplement is available in pill form as well.
Studies performed on l-arginine show that it is generally safe. Even so, users may sometimes experience mild side effects such as nausea and diarrhea. Its effect on pregnant and nursing women have not been evaluated; therefore, you should avoid using it if you are expecting or breastfeeding. Speak with your physician if you are taking medications for diabetes, kidney disease, or liver impairment, as l-arginine could interact negatively with these drugs.
If you are struggling to build muscle or lose fat, l-arginine could be a powerful supplement that will help you reach your goals. It can also provide you with results in only a short amount of time, making it ideal to use just before a bodybuilding or fitness competition. For best results, ensure you purchase l-arginine only from a reputable supplier; otherwise, you may not achieve the gains you desire.